Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Libby seeks jurors who trust Cheney

WASHINGTON - A potential juror in the perjury trial of former White House aide "Scooter" Libby was allowed to remain in the jury pool Wednesday after saying she would be impartial and put aside her tepid impression of Vice President Dick Cheney, an expected defense witness.

"I'm not particularly impressed with a lot of his manners of being, but I can't speak to his credibility," said the woman, who works for the Department of Health and Human Services, as jury selection continued for a second day.

Cheney's credibility has emerged as a key issue, with defense lawyers looking for a panel that can trust the vice president, expected to testify on behalf of Libby, his former chief of staff. Libby is accused of lying to investigators about his conversations with journalists about an outed CIA officer.

Libby's attorneys say it's critical they know whether potential jurors view the vice president as credible. Two people who expressed doubts about that were dismissed from the jury pool Tuesday.

"I don't have the highest opinion of him," a young financial analyst said. "If I had to rank people as to credibility, I wouldn't put him at the top of the list."

He was dismissed, as was a young woman who said she was "completely without objectivity" about Bush administration officials who might be called to testify.

"There is nothing they could say or do that would make me think anything positive about them," the woman said moments before she was excused from the jury pool by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton.

Opening arguments are planned Monday in a trial expected to take up to six weeks.

CIA officer

Valerie Plame's identity was leaked to the press in 2003, around the time her husband, Joseph Wilson, was criticizing the Bush administration's march to war. The trial hinges not on the source of the leak but whether Libby lied to investigators.

He says he forgot his conversations with reporters because he had more pressing matters on his mind.


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